By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Joseph Faudskar (Fr., OF, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) hit his first collegiate home run for Willamette University to pulls the Bearcats within 4-2 in the top of the fourth inning, but Linfield College added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth and scored one run in the fifth, as the Wildcats earned a 6-2 victory at Roy Helser Field on Friday, Feb. 17. It was the Northwest Conference opener for both teams.
Linfield upped its record to 3-2 overall, 1-0 in the NWC. Willamette dropped to 4-4 overall, 0-1 in the NWC.
Willamette opened the scoring with two outs in the first inning. Connor Bailey (So., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) started the rally with a walk. He reached second base on a passed ball and went to third on a balk. Mason Fessler (Jr., 1B/DH, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) also walked.
Eric Del Prado (Jr., 1B/DH, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) singled to center field to drive in Bailey for a 1-0 lead. Linfield starting pitcher David Brosius recorded his third strikeout of the inning to leave runners at first and second.
The Wildcats moved in front 2-1 in the bottom of the first. Brady Rediger walked to begin the stanza. Scott Hilpert followed with a two-run homer to left field. Linfield's lead reached 4-2 when Jake Gellos walked with one out in the second inning and scored when Alex Hendra-Brown blasted a two-run homer to left center.
The next run was scored Faudskar of Willamette on his solo home run to left field to open the fourth inning. Cameron Igarashi (Jr., OF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) batted next and walked. Relief pitcher Callahan Neely forced a line-drive out, a strikeout and a pop-up to end the threat.
For Linfield in the bottom of the fourth, Kekoa Kaulukukui hit a leadoff single. He advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch. Gellos walked to put runners at the corners. One out later, Kaulukukui crossed the plate on a ground out by Joey Cassano.
In the fifth, Ryan Pladson of Linfield was hit by a pitch with two outs. Ryan Ross brought Pladson home with a double to right field. Kaulukukui reached base on an error and Gellos walked. The Wildcats left the bases loaded when WU relief pitcher Nathan Gilman (So., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) struck out Hendra-Brown.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, as Neely and Gilman both pitched effectively. Neely allowed one hit and struck out five batters in six innings. He received the win and is 1-0 in the seaosn. Gilman tossed 3 1/3 innings and allowed three hits and no runs.
WU starter Brandon Nelson (So., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) went 4 2/3 innings for the Bearcats. Nelson (0-3) allowed six hits and six runs, while recording four strikeouts and four walks.
Faudskar led Willamette on offense by going 2 for 4 with a homer, one run scored an an RBI. The Bearcats finished with just five hits. Del Prado, Igarashi and Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) each recorded one hit.
Hilpert and Rediger both went 2 of 4 with a run scored for the Wildcats. Hilpert also homered and earned two RBIs.
The teams will complete the three-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 18 in McMinnville, Oregon. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. (PST).